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Memorial Address: Viscount Samuel

<plain_text><page sequence="1">(III) VISCOUNT SAMUEL, P.C., G.C.B., O.M., G.B.E. By Cecil Roth1 ENGLAND mourns the recent death of one of the most notable of its Elder Statesmen, Viscount Samuel, and the Anglo-Jewish community the loss of one of its most beloved sons. He has been and will again be adequately commemorated elsewhere. But it is proper that a few words should be said to honour his memory at the first meeting of the Jewish Historical Society of England after his passing: for he was not only a valued member and supporter of this Society but also was in himself 1 Delivered before the Jewish Historical Society of England on 14th March, 1962.</page><page sequence="2">260 MEMORIAL ADDRESSES a extinguished part of Anglo-Jewish history. He was without doubt one of the very greatest of English Jews of all time. His record as first High Commissioner of Palestine from 1920 to 1925 gives him a special position in the annals of the Jewish people. So long as Jewish history is studied his name can never be forgotten in this connexion: for he was the first Jew for two thousand years to rule over the Land of Israel, preparing the way for the estabhshment of the State of Israel; and before that, as has now become clear, he was one of those whose devotion and skilful advocacy were primarily responsible for the Balfour Declaration which prepared the way for that great consumation. In Anglo-Jewish history too, the particular object of our studies and activities, his name was among the most memorable of all. No other Jew in this country ever had so long a Parliamentary career. He was in 1909 the first English Jew to become a Cabinet Minister, in 1916 the first Jew to be appointed Secretary of State, later the first Jew to lead a political party in Parliament: and his role as architect of the Children's Act in 1908, at the time of the General Strike in 1925, and during the political crisis of 1931, are sufficient to secure the perpetuation of his name in English history. In his later years moreover he renewed in his writings the tradition of the British statesman-philo? sopher, almost forgotten since Haldane and Balfour. Our Society on the other hand has special reason to mourn his passing. For we too benefited over many years from that splendid sense of Jewish loyalty which was one of his outstanding characteristics. In 1908, he was one of the principal speakers at the great banquet organized by the Society to celebrate the jubilee of Jewish political emancipation in England and in 1927 took the chair when we celebrated the seventieth birthday of Gustave Tuck. The Lucien Wolf lectures, when we organized them in 1935, were given lustre by the fact that he opened the series with a memorable address on Great Britain and Palestine before a remarkably brilliant gathering. But it was in the smaller things that his support was so valuable and important to us. During the war years, when he was living in Oxford, he repeatedly lent the magic of his name to bolster up my attempts to keep the Society in being and before the public eye. He took the chair at my Presidential address-in exile (as it were) in the Hall of Magdalen College, and later for the Master of Balliol's Lucien Wolf lecture in the Hall of the Oxford Union, where curiously enough he had never spoken (unless I am mistaken) as an undergraduate; and when we celebrated our own jubilee in the rooms of the Royal Society in 1943, he closed the proceedings in a perfectly-turned speech of characteristic charm. For many years he was among our Honorary Members. We may never have another of such distinction.</page></plain_text>